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Mario Lucia is following in his father's footsteps. He's just not joining him.
Lucia, a standout forward from Plymouth who played at Wayzata before moving to the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League this year, committed to Notre Dame for college on Thursday, Oct. 6. Lucia will join the Irish for the 2012-13 season.
Hints from Lucia and some of his high school-aged friends began to surface on Twitter Thursday evening. In a post at 12:28 a.m. (CST) Friday, Lucia wrote "Notre Dame #irish,"
The decision was confirmed Friday morning.
"Notre Dame is very fortunate to have landed a quality individual in Mario," Fred Harbinson, the Vees head coach and GM, said in a statement. "He is a gifted player that has not only size, but speed and skill."
Lucia, the son of University of Minnesota coach Don Lucia, picked the Irish over a handful of schools, including Colorado College and Minnesota. Don Lucia graduated from Notre Dame in 1981 and played there.
Mario Lucia was aboard a bus for an eight-hour trip to Prince George on Friday morning. Reached through a Vees spokesperson, Lucia said via e-mail going to Notre Dame is a, "chance for me to get out from my dad's shadow and start my own path. I just feel it's best for me to establish myself without any concern about who my dad is."
Mario Lucia continued: "I'm obviously excited to be heading to such a successful program. They're ranked No. 1 in [the] preseason and now have a new rink and national TV deal. All those things hopefully will create some excite[ment] for the hockey program."
A 6-foot-3, 195-pound forward, Lucia, 18, has three goals and four assists in five games so far this season for the Vees. He scored 30 goals and added 24 assists in 27 games for Wayzata last season, and was a second-round pick (60th overall) by the Minnesota Wild in this summer's NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center.
Steven Fogarty of Edina, Lucia's Vees teammate, also has committed to play at Notre Dame.